Thursday, 7 August 2014

Yogi-Land (Yogyakarta)

THURSDAY 07/08 - MONDAY 11/08


We arrived in Yogi Land on Thursday evening after the longest bus ride (24 hours) that we both ever been on.  The traffic in Indonesia is unbelievable - there is never a lull in traffic, millions of scooters and on single lane roads with constant on-coming traffic everyone goes the speed of the slowest vehicle! This is why a trip that was estimated on Google maps to take 10 hours, took us more than double the time to cover!  

Inside the bus getting ready to board the ferry between Bali and Java 


On board the ferry watching the night lights of the shore, fire works and being serenaded by a VERY friendly Pakistani man. 

Unfortunately for us, the roads in Java are very badly labelled and we ended up getting lost- just what we needed after travelling non-stop for an entire day! Luckily for us though, we met a lovely Indonesian guy (Saka - a physics professor) in the street, who took time out of his busy day to walk us to our hostel.  We thanked him profusely and took his details as he offered to be our guide and take us to some local eateries while we were in his beautiful town. 

Friday 08/08 - Sultan's Palace, Water Castle and Bird Market

After a great night's rest (on a stationary bed) we mobilised to familiarise ourselves with the area (which was desperately needed) and check out some of the local sites.  First up on the agenda was the Sultan's Palace.

    Joy posing with the royal lamp-posts and getting as close as she             could to the marble floors (which of course were strictly off limits          for us peasants)

Joy putting on a brave smile in the face of this scary statute 

Rox posing next to the traditional orchestra instruments that are apparently played for tourists in the evenings.  

Ornate wooden carvings decorating the halls of the Palace 

Birds were kept in cages all around the Palace - Indonesian people love and treasure their bird life 


Rox getting ready to lift the Sultan's carriage

As we breezed through the rooms that we were actually allowed access to in the Sultan's Palace, we came across mostly gifts that had been given to the Sultan by all people of influence all over the world 
Porcelain tea set 

Cigars in an egg encasing, a hand carved wooden pipe and gold-encrusted elephant tusks

My grand-father's clock was too large for the shelf....  
                       The golden goose                

The palace was dripping with gold trimmings, chandeliers and ornate pillars  

Joy and Rox trying to fit in with the locals 

Rox scoping out the fashion trends of Indonesian ladies and Joy catching up on some family tree history 

Even whilst traipsing through the Palace, there is always time to spot one's...  

... prince charming...

Rox got a bit closer to get a better look...

...But upon closer inspection... the resounding truth hit that the portrait was about 200 years old and the person depicted even older... :( 

And to think if Rox had just been borne a FEW years earlier this could have all been hers... 

After combing the Sultan's Palace, we found a little arts and crafts market just outside the Palace Walls.  The first stop was a little puppet workshop.  A very friendly man there sat us down and explained the process of how the puppets were made and the symbolism behind the various engravings.  The symbols represented life in harmony with nature and also depicted the history and traditions of the Indonesian people.  He explained how the puppets are made out of leather from buffaloes that is cured, softened and cut into square pieces.  Afterwhich the squares are cut, shaped and engraved with a metal tool and then pinned together with split pins and painted with bright colours.  The puppets are very strong, flexible and reversible and are used as entertainment in traditional cultural shows.  

The squares pieces of leather being shaped and engraved 

         Our demonstrator and Joy holding up the unpainted puppet cut outs  

Rox with the finished products

Joy the puppet master 

Shadow puppets behind a screen 

We also visited an art gallery in the market full of beautiful oil paintings and many batik style wall hangings.  Batik is a manual resist dyeing technique that is applied to cloth.  It is made up of symmetrical patterns formed by dots and lines and Java, in Indonesia, is known to have the best techniques and quality of workmanship in the world. Upon learning that we were South Africans, the curator of the shop was pleased to inform us that our very own former president, Nelson Mandela, sourced the batik for his unique and well-known shirts from this area. However, since it was an art gallery and the artists were concerned about copyrights, we were unable to take any photographs of the pieces. 

The main draw card for Joy to explore this market was the sign outside that lured us in with the promise of the world's best coffee.  Joy being the coff-aholic that she is could not resist!   


Joy tried to convince Rox that we had to try the Weasel Coffee for the many health benefits that it boasted to possess, but her expression betrayed her genuine excitement to just get her daily fix of caffeine.  


And so we got to sample the world's most expensive and sort-after coffee.  One cup of the lower grade coffee was about R50 and the top notch coffee would set back a South African about R130.  Needless to say we shared a cup of the cheaper coffee.  But luckily for us the store owner took pity on us fellow third world county folk and gave us a sample of the expensive brew at no extra cost.  What most people don't know is that this coffee is actually made out of the coffee beans that pass through a type of Weasel (the Luwak - an Asian Palm Civet, Paradoxurus hermaphroditus ).  The producers claim that the digestive juices of this animal bring out a better flavour in the coffee beans.  It did taste amazing and as one customer aptly wrote in the review book: "most expensive and delicious sh*t I ever drank."  What also made this experience even more authentic was the fact that the owner kept the animals as his personal pets right outside the store.  And once again he was nice enough to open the cages and let us marvel at these incredible creatures that share Joy's taste for good coffee beans.

The Luwak 

After our percolating cup of coffee, our strength was renewed and we set off to see the next site - the ruins of the Water Castle.

Joy's impression of the Vitruvian Man 

Legend has it that in the days when Sultans were polygamous- the Sultan would go to the Water Castle and sit in the centre and the top of this enclosed area (away from prying eyes).  Beautiful women would then dance around the Sultan and if any of them took his fancy, he would give her a flower and a messenger would bring her to a secluded room of the Castle, where he would have his way with her and possibly end up marrying her.  However, in the last two generations of Sultans, the Indonesian people have followed the Muslim faith and as such, these practises were banished.  As a result the Water Castle fell into rack and ruin. 

In the Sultan's Pole Position 

Standing where the dancing girls would have been - wonder if either of us would have caught the Sultan's eye...?

We went into an area we thought to be one of the secluded rooms, but when we shone our light, it turned out to be a little dark hovel with mud, litter and a random broom

Even though the buildings were in ruins and there wasn't much to see at this historical site, there were amazing shadows, textures and angles around - perfect for a creative and artistic photo-shoot...

Ruins selfie 

Who said you can't have fun with a pile of rubble?

View of the city 

Rox imitating a 'male model' who had been striking posers here just a minute before 

At least the ruins still served some purpose - for these children it was the perfect place to stage an intense soccer match 

Joy climbing up a forbidden staircase - to scale the locked gate or not? Unfortunately that dress wasn't meant for breaking and entering.

This very quaint city was once occupied by the Dutch - and the red-tiled roofs certainly serve as a stamp of Dutch architecture.  Since South Africa bears this same mark in our history - this site actually reminded us of home 

After the Water Castle, we headed in search of the famous bird market.

We had a crappy little map that we had been given from our hostel and as we have found in Asia, the map did not accurately reflect the distance to be travelled. Our map reading skills had improved vastly since Ha Noi, and we were on the right track, unfortunately this track seemed to never end! Luckily the bird market is a well known local attraction so many local people that we asked along the way assured us that we were getting closer..."only 1km that way..."

We eventually found our destination and immediately plonked ourselves upon a bench where we rested our feet and refuelled on fresh fruit and FREE flowing tap water! We then decided to explore the bird market for all its 'wonders'.
The bird market

The Indonesians really love and respect bird life.  In the bird market we found all sorts of birds from every part of the world.







Not only did the market house every type of bird, it also sported both exotic and domesticated  animals 

We were a quite shocked and upset to see some of the creatures in such terrible living conditions, especially the exotic ones that were being kept in these small cages in the hot and humid Indonesian climate, without proper food and water provided.

We were both felt empathy for the animals, Joy was particularly emotional so when we saw these beautiful owls outside a cage, Roxy tried to reassure Joy that these owls were choosing to stay with their beloved owners...unfortunately, this trip to dream land was short lived as upon closer inspection we discovered that they were shackled to each other and to their prison pole. After this, even Rox's optimistic tolerance was extinguished!

Cute little kitten with one blue and one green eye 

Most of the animals here are hand-reared from babies before they are sold as pets at the market

This little girl plays with her charge and even though it was very hard for us to see so many animals in cages and most of them probably weren't treated very well - it at least gave us a little comfort to see the special bond that these two clearly shared

We then wandered to an open section where crowds had gathered. We were very curious to find out what all the fuss was about as it looked very official. Luckily, one of the men gathered in the crowd could speak English and happily explained that this was a bird judging competition. He also went on to explain that this was a unique event as it is only in Indonesia that birds are judged on their singing abilities, not on their looks. This is because in Indonesia birds are highly revered and they believe that a happy bird is a chirpy and singing bird. This meant that the judges had to be very well trained and in tune with each individual breed of birds' melody.

As you can see from the above photograph, each bird is placed in a cage and hung from the roof above the judges. The four judges then circulated and individually judge and then placed their colour flag into the buckets below the birds that they ranked in the top positions. Then they come together and deliberate on who the final top four positions would go to for that specific breed of bird. Our local informant explained that bird competitions in Indonesia are very lucrative as the prize money is quite a sum. Therefore the bird owners spend lots of money on the right food and rearing techniques and even hire special 'coaches' who train the birds to respond to their specific call. At the competition the bird coaches stand at the side and call to their birds which then respond by singing. Our informant also had a bird in the competition who he was trying to encourage to sing, so in solidarity we joined in to root for his bird. This foreign tongue support must have worked as his bird did end up placed in the top four!

After each round of the competition, owners remove their birds from the judging area

As we were physically drained from the day's adventure (on foot) and emotionally scarred from seeing all those animals in cages, we did something completely out of character...we payed for a tuk tuk drive. However, Roxy did negotiate us a good price which made it sting a little less. 

Once a price was fixed, our driver lightened up and warmed slightly and was happy to pose in photos with us. Although he was a strong looking old man, the distance was so long back to our hostel that he implored the services of a motor bike driver to give him some extra momentum from behind (we prefer to go with this theory as opposed to the possibility that it was our combined weight that was cause for him to require backup)

Boost from behind...

We arrived back just in time to catch pool time which was bizarrely is only between 4-6 pm.

Sunset in the city, complete with a fake tree or two


That evening we were reunited with our favourite local map-man, Saka. As he knew far too well about the state of the public transport in the city and was an eco-warrior, Saka arrived at our hostel on his trusty bicycle. We were very excited to have a tour around the city with someone who knew the his way around and who didn't want to rip us off...we were definitely not going to get lost this time! We walked into town and to a local buffet that Saka often frequented. There were so many local people enjoying a Friday night out. Families, business men and friends were all there. We stepped up to the buffet tables with our empty plates in hand. For us, this process usually involved picking the food that looked the least suspicious and hoping that it would be enjoyable or at least edible, but now we had a food interpreter, so this made the experience much less daunting. Saka patiently explained each item to us as we made our way along the tables full of food. Once our plates were filled with what we were assured would be delicious food, we went to sit down at a huge wooden round table to enjoy our spoils. As we tucked into the local deliciousness, which was so much cheaper than in the tourist centre, we chatted to Saka and found out about his life and country. He was quite an inspiring young man and as he spoke about his country and his hometown, Yogyakarta, we could tell how proud he was. We had wonderful evening swapping stories of our home countries and sharing ideas. After dinner, Saka took us for a walking tour around the city. As we wandered about Saka told us a brief history of Indonesia and we saw the first post office and bank in Yogyakarta, as well as the some other cultural artifacts scattered around the city. As it was Friday night, there was lots of activity in the streets.  We witnessed a street re-enactment of traditional warrior dancing from the Indonesian Borneo tribes. It was rather interesting and a little scary. On our way back to the hostel we stopped to treat Saka with an ice-cream...he was so delighted and we all gobbled down our Western cheats! Back at the hostel we sat and chatted for another while and got some good tips on sights to see and food to eat,before bidding our new friend farewell. We then had a good night's rest, ready for the adventures of tomorrow!

Saturday 09/08 - Borobudur and Mystery Meatballs

We awoke with an itinerary for the day - see both temples and perhaps even an art museum Saka had recommended. Unfortunately this efficient plan did not account for the lack in efficiency of the Indonesian public transport. We enjoyed a delicious local rice and chicken breakfast and headed down the road to the bus stop. We knew which bus to catch, now we just had to wait for it to arrive - many buses came by, but alas none matched the number we were looking for. Whilst we waited, some fellow foreigners joined, also hoping to view the temple that day. Eventually, after about 45mins of waiting at the little station, our bus arrived but it was fully packed. Much like taxis in South Africa, these buses were filled way passed capacity, but just like in SA, there is always room for one more... We stood tightly packed into this oven box bus and all collectively praying that the trip would not be too long. Eventually, after getting far closer than we would have liked to with the people around us, we arrived at the main bus station. Here we were ushered to a large minibus type vehicle which would take us to Borobudur Temple. The 40km journey took us over an hour to complete as the traffic was quite horrendous and the speed extremely slow! Once we arrived, we hopped off the bus and walked down the road towards the temple entrance.  As we didn't get student discount, were not locals and have a weak currency, it was really expensive for us to visit this temple (R230). 

The map of the Borobudur park with the main temple in the centre

Roxy had been creeping this poor German guy, at our hostel and all the way on the bus to the temple as he is a dead ringer for her friend Nick Ward. She told him of his long lost twin and he was kind enough to pose for a photo to prove the resemblance.

Just further evidence that Asia really loves Hello Kitty!

View of the temple as we approached along the path

Borobudur is the largest Buddhist Temple in the world and is one of Indonesia's greatest treasures. People from all over the world and even Indonesian locals flock to the temple each day to marvel at its magnificence.

As instructed on the pamphlet, there was a special way to enter the temple. You had to enter at the East gate and walk clockwise around each level (3 in total) and up to the next, then exit  the temple through either the North, South or West gates.

The construction of this temple is truly incredible. It is made out of solid stone blocks stacked upon one another and each wall is covered with intricate carving, all of which tells a story.

Getting the perfect photos in the temple was not a simple task as it was so busy with people everywhere.
Take 1 - bunch of people (complete with fancy pants lady)

Take 2 - almost there

Take 3...Perfect 


Roxy was very keen to show off her superior photographer skills to the group and thus we started posing in all sorts of fun and inspiring positions around the temple. 

The headless Buddha 

The view surrounding the temple was so beautiful...the lush green land and the outline of the blue mountains in the distance

Excuse me sir...

Thank you!

Within each of the cone structures is a Buddha sitting in the Lotus position


...I see you!


Even though it should have taken us only about half an hour to wander around the temple and take our photies, we were constantly hounded by locals asking to takee pictures with us. At first we were flattered and happily stood with the masses and smiled but as the waves of adoring fans kept coming we found ourselves almost literally running away and hiding, even when we could clearly hear them calling after us. Being adored is so tough...

Borobudur selfie


We had to pay for this photo by posing with a sweet little girl who was evidently terrified of us but her grandpa (our photographer in this pic) insisted.

By the time we made it out of the temple and back to the bus station, it was already after 2pm. We still had hopes of visiting the Prambanam Temple as well but we still had to catch the bus back to the main bus station in Jogja and then catch a connecting bus to the second Temple...time didn't seem to be on our side. Once on the bus back, the driver seemed to stop at every little town and pick up every person he could find along the way. At one stop, we waited for about 20minutes. It wasn't all bad though as we got to watch some intense chess games going on the sidewalk next to where we had stopped. The two older gentleman were super serious and you could see that each man had his own strategy in play. After a hot, long and slow drive back to town, we arrived in Jogja around 4:30pm. We were exhausted so we decided to call it quits for the day and rather enjoy another swim in our roof top pool. That evening, we went exploring the city in search of a meatball restaurant Saka had recommended. We found it and enjoyed the local dish which consisted of mysterious meatballs in a noodle soup. We sat on the good ol' plastic stools that resembled those in Vietnam and ordered the only option on the menu. It was quite good and we liked the atmosphere, sharing the table with local families. We went back to the hostel to plan our adventure for the next was going to be a busy one!

Sunday 10/08 - Vredeburg Fortress Museum, Prambanan Temple and Ramayana Ballet

We were up early and ready to initiate our game plan for the day. First on the agenda was to find a scooter. The hostel receptionist pointed us in the direction of a good place and we were off. After quite a walk and getting only a little lost, we found the spot and got ourselves a pretty little scooter! Now that we had our own transport we were feeling confident that we would be able to get tons more done - no more public transport for us!

We wanted to visit Mount Bromo, a volcano, in the next few days and were still trying to figure out a way to get there. We had done a little research and found that we could get a train down to Probolinggo, a town near the volcano. We went to the train station in search of tickets - this was the first test of our navigational skills...we passed (although we did go into the wrong entrance - at least we found the station). Unfortunately there was absolutely no place left on the trains. It was school holidays and close to Independence day so everyone was travelling around. We begged, pleaded and flirted but alas nothing could be done. We were quite disheartened but would just have to find another way. 

We jumped back on our trusty scooter and headed to our first cultural experience of the day, Vredeburg Fortress Museum. The buildings used to be a Dutch fortress that was built when the Dutch occupied Indonesia, before it was taken over by the Japanese and then eventually turned into a museum once Indonesia had won their independence.

Upon entering the fortress we were lead by the signs into a dark room in which we watch a short film giving the history of Indonesia and the Vredeburg fortress. The fortress was originally called Rustenburg but was renamed Vredeburg which means "Fort of Peace".

It was then off to the fist display room which boasted a group of old artifacts

Film projector 

It became quite clear that the museum was created more for local tourists as most of the information boards were only in Indonesian so we weren't always 100% sure of what was being represented in each display cabinet. Luckily because of our superior observational and deductive skills we were able to identify the following as the 'photograph area'.

We were rather perplexed as to why this particular spot was chosen as a prime photo was just a plain white wall...thrilling!

As we were wandering through the different sections and deciphering the displays, we noticed a group of young lads following close behind us. The museum was pretty empty so it was not difficult to notice them and we sensed that they were after one thing from us...a photo! We were just waiting to see which of the little gang would be brave enough to ask us. After a bit of deliberation and group giggling, the valiant young soul stepped up, looked through his dorky glasses, cleared his throat to hide the cracking of his voice and asked for a group photo. We had to applaud his efforts and rewarded him and his crew with a couple group photies. We inquired as to why these geeky teens were visiting a local museum on a Sunday morning and they unashamedly admitted that they were 'Tourist Hunting'. We were a little shocked and scared that we had just become pray but judging by the hunters' appearances we knew we were in no danger. 

As part of the Youth Entertainment and Education section there were tons of fun games to play. We got quite into it and were surprisingly talented.

Joy putting her stealth training into practise...stalking the unsuspecting enemy


Roxy showing the due respect for her fellow officers

Tribute to the three main women in the fight for independence...oh, and Roxy's there too - but can you spot her...

The immaculate gardens inside the walls of the fortress

Once we had got our fill of Indonesian history, it was time to head out to Prambanan Temple. We had our map and the route there seemed quite straight forward. We were feeling confident and ready to attack the trip there. 

We started off very well, finding our first land mark with ease. It now seemed that we would just have to find the main road, Jalan Yogyakarta Solo, and continue straight along it until we reached the simple!
We were feeling good, chatting to the locals at the traffic lights and taking skillful photos but then disaster hit - Jalan Yogyakarta turned into a one way and not in the direction we were heading. We were forced to veer off the main strip in the wrong direction. We had no clue how long the one way went for and which road would join us back onto our path! EEK! We frantically asked the locals at the traffic lights in which direction we should go but we hadn't quite mastered the name of the temple yet so were just mumbling...Pramababanamanan. Needless to say most people didn't quite understand! Undefeated we continued on, using logic, the position of the sun and our strong sense of magnetic South to gauge our way, we landed up in the middle of rural suburban area...nowhere near the main road. We pulled over, asked a pet store owner to refer to our map and help us find our way. Feeling perhaps slightly less confident but ever more determined, we hit the road once again. This time we found it and continued along this busy highway, dodging trucks, minivans and trying to look inconspicuous in front of the traffic police until we reached Pramabanamana temple!!! Phew!

We entered the temple area. The temple is situated within a compound which houses beautiful gardens, other Hindu temples and even a deer park. Before we rushed off to see the temple, we were drawn to a performance that was taking place on one of the main lawns. After viewing this rather interesting display for about 2 minutes, it was clear that these 'performers' must have been inebriated or on some kind of special herbs as it was painful to watch.

The show ranged from sacrificing humans to a fat man with a whip feeding flowers to people 'riding' wooden horses - this had it all!

Ooh...are those flowers I spy...

Indeed they are...

Why thank you...yummy!               

Roxy 'enjoying' the spectacle! 

After such an inspirational event, we made our way towards the temple we had come to see, Prambanan Temple. This Hindu temple stands 47 metres high and is made up of a complex of individual temples. As with most of the temples around Asia, your knees must be covered as a sign of respect. Being the super prepared individuals that we are, we had brought our own sarongs for this purpose, but for those less awesome- grey sarongs were available for hire at the entrance. We did notice that all the tourists were instructed to wear sarongs, although the locals were not...peculiar.

Prambanan Temple consists of three yards, each containing temples of which the centre is the biggest and considered the most sacred. Originally the total number of temples was 240, although now many have gone to ruins or been affected by numerous earthquakes.


Standing at the entrance to this temple.



View from the temple wall - the Ramayana Open Air Theatre in the distance, where we were to watch the Ramayana Ballet that evening
Similar to the Borobudur Temple, Prambanan was built from huge stone blocks and decorated with the most amazing carvings that all told a story.

We did not know too much about the structure or the meaning of each individual temple as we walked around but just took in the atmosphere and appreciated the incredible architecture that surrounded us.

A large earthquake caused damaged to the temple. Although restorations are taking place, there are still some parts that are still left devastated. Here Joy is attempting to help the rebuild!

Prambanan Temple selfie

Spot the gotta love photo shop (or just our amazing ability to chase away our inconvenient people in the way and then take exactly the same posed picture...?!)


       Entering into one of the side temples

Tickling the nose of this creature is considered good luck...okay, perhaps we made that up but it could be true.

This fallen pinnacle has been left to commemorate the damage done to the Temple complex by the earthquake on 27 May 2006.
Rox expressing her sadness at the ruins of these once perfect structures!

In order to get our own back a little, we ambushed this poor lady who was immaculately dressed. She was very sweet and entertained us and explained that she had just graduated and this was her graduation dress.  
It was so pretty that everyone wanted a cute!

The impressive Prambanan Temple was not the only temple within the complex so we hopped on this fun-sized 'train' to view the rest of the temples.
Choo choo...all aboard

A Mosque that could be seen from the grounds - it was so nice to see that two different religions could live in harmony so close to each other

Unfortunately these smaller temples in the compound (Bubrah Temple, Lumbung Temple and Sewu Temple - all Buddhist Temples) had also been hit by the earthquake and were still being restored so we were unable to go inside to view them. 
We stopped at the last temple on the complex, the Sewu Temple. This is the second largest Buddhist temple in Indonesia after Borobudur.

This Temple has four entrances, North, South, East and West. Each entrance is guarded by two Dwarapala statures

Rub the Dwarapalas' bellies - this must surely be good luck!

We then returned to the train for the 1km drive back to the main park area. Along the way we saw people walking and thought "What fools...don't they know this ride is free!"

We had some time to kill while we waited for sunset, so we decided to check out the museum and information centre. There were beautiful gardens that surrounded the main buildings that were filled with salvaged relics from the temples. It was really interesting as we could wander around the garden and learn what each figurine represented.


We stumbled into a dark video room within which a film about the Legend of Ramayana (Rama) was told. It was great for us to hear as we were going to see the ballet based on this story later that evening.
In' short': Prince Rama and Princess Shinta are happily married but then one day as they are walking in the forest, Rama is lured away by a golden deer that is actually an evil spirit geared to separate the happy couple. Although Leksmana, Rama's brother, was suppose to protect Shinta, he was pretty useless, left he alone and she got captured by Rahwana! Once Rama found her missing, he immediately started a mission to rescue his beloved. A huge war ensued where monkey armies were recruited and Rama's sharpened archery skills came into play. They won the war and Shinta was saved. But in classic soap opera fashion, Rama doubted Shinta's fidelity. So in order to prove her faithfulness, she declared that she would walk into fire and if she was impure, the fire would destroy he. Amazingly. she entered the fire and came out of it unharmed! To further convince everyone of this purification act, the fire god Brama came down and presented Shinta back to Rama. They were thus reunited and lived happily ever after!

The film also explained a little more about Prambanan Temple and we learnt that there were statues inside the side temples that we didn't even notice on our first visit...whoops!


The God of Knowledge (Roxy reading), the God of Transport (Joy being a hell-driver) and a Buddha missing a bit of his arm were some of the statues found in the museum show rooms

We passed the main lawns back towards the Prambanan Temple and the show was still going on...still not making any sense whatsoever!

We also came across a deer park (these were in much better conditions than the mouse deer we had previously discovered in KL). We saw a mother and child picking up leaves and feeding them to the deer so we once again followed our motto of 'Do as the locals do' and collected a bunch of leaves. There was this old guy with a cart selling deer food, but we were happy to do some foraging of our own to satisfy the deers' bellies!

Hmm...a dried up old leaf! Delicious

Joy making friends with this little guy

We were fascinated by these antlers...they were hairy but oh so soft to the touch

Tickle time

Roxy: "Aah...he likes me, he really likes me" 
Deer: "Where my food be at?"

After feeling good about saving the deer from starvation with some crunchy leaves which we were convinced they loved, the sun was setting and it was time to make our way back to Prambanan Temple and see it illuminated by the golden rays of the falling sun!

We had heard whispers of how beautiful sunset at Prambanan Temple would be but no words could live up to the magnificence that we were about to behold...


Sun nestled between the two towers

There was a special photo spot, so we had to jump on the platform and take advantage of the optimal positioning!


We have the sun between our fingers

The glowing orange ball peeping through a gap in the pinnacles

Now that we had been educated on the history behind the temple and knew its hidden treasures, we went exploring around again, but now with enlightened eyes

The Hindu Tree of Life

Statues we 'discovered,' hidden inside the smaller side temples


The incredibly detailed stone carvings along the walls which portrayed the legend of Rama

As the sun sunk below the horizon, the sky changed and became a mixing bowl of pinks and purples sprayed across the sky and dancing among the clouds.

The sun was gone and all that remained was the outline of the perfectly symmetrical pinnacles that fell against the last light of day

The light of day had taken rest but the illumination from the full moon allowed enough light for us to navigate our way out of the compound

The beautiful full moon casting light onto Prambanan Temple

We had had a rather busy day and it was not yet over, we collected our scooter and zooted off down the main highway to find the Ramayana Ballet. We found the theatre easily but seemed to run into some parking issues. We innocently followed another scooter around to the back of the theatre where all the locals could park for free. Once we removed our helmets, they realised that we were actually foreigners (obviously two girls on a scooter had thrown them off) and we were immediately redirected to the tourist parking area for which we had to pay

Joy displaying her ballet skills 

We had some time to kill before the start of the show, so we decided to pop off to the loo and spruce up before entering the open air theatre darling.

We utilised every beautifying thing at our disposal...even the hand dryer came in use as a hair fluffer!


Who would have guessed that just a little eye liner, lip gloss and hair ruffling could make girls look so good!

We entered the open air theatre and were guided to our seats. We were so early that we got to get first pick of the cheap seats...winning!

We were also lucky enough to enjoy this incredible view of the moon peering through the clouds over Prambanan Temple!

We had a little time to spare so Rox took a little power nap on the rather uncomfortable stone seating (she has come to be able to nod off just about anywhere after travelling these past months). As more and more people arrived, her occupation of the front row became increasingly more inappropriate so Joy had to wake this sleeping beauty to free up the extra seats

As the show was about to begin we sat eagerly in our seats, waiting to enjoy references to our childhood ballet moves - PliéJeté and Arabesque with a taste of Indonesian spice. But what we witnessed was more closely associated to traditional African gumboot dancing than anything the Royal Academy of Ballet would choreograph. 

The Ramayana Ballet was split into four episodes, one performed each evening. The third episode - Kumbarana Leno (The death of Kumbokarno) - was being performed on our night. As the performance was taking place there were screens behind the dancers that explained each scene in both Indonesian and English. This was helpful as it sometimes challenging to recognise characters and follow the storyline.

This episode revolved around the big battle for Rama and his army to save Shinta. The monkey army was assembled, the seas were parted by Rama's magic arrow and some brave soldiers lost their lives. It was a touching and emotional display of one man's determination to rescue his true love.

The costumes were really beautiful and the colours shone off the stage. The monkey army was made up of little children bouncing around the stage, forgetting their steps and pushing each other around...very amusing!

One hilarious part happened when the talented archer, Rama, had to kill an evil warrior with a single arrow...unfortunately the actor who portrayed the mythical hero was less skilled at wielding a bow and ended up darting his ally right in the face. But miraculously, although untouched by the arrow, the evil warrior fell to the ground...dead! Wow...Rama really must have a magic arrow! [this was the second time during the performance that one of Rama's arrows had gone astray...instead of firing the first flying arrow off stage, he managed to aim it directly into the neck of a little girl dressed like a lily].

This video shows a dramatic fight scene between the patriotic hero Kumbakarna and the evil Hanuman. 

After the 2 hour performance, we were allowed the opportunity to meet the cast! Yay!

Joy and Roxy feeling starstruck with Rama, the star of the show!

Posing with Princess Shinta and her entourage
The view from the VIP seats, the stage overlooked by the magnificent Prambanan Temple

It was around 9:30pm and we still had to navigate our way back to our hostel. Luckily now we wouldn't have to fight against any one way roads. Our strategy was to drive slowly and stick behind the other scooters. This technique worked pretty well but we did seem to stick out like sore thumbs as we received lots of attention from surrounding motorists on our way. It was clear that Western girls don't often hire bikes in Indonesia and we even had to give a tail (two local boys on a motorbike) the slip. We arrived back at our hostel unscathed and exhausted from the day's adventure. We just had time for a quick shower and to pack up before falling into bed to continue the fourth episode of Rama's story in our dreams.

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